The importance of sleep on our mental and physical health:
Researchers have identified sleep deprivation as increasing the severity of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. It has been reported that some individuals who have insufficient rest experience a higher level of physical pain. Anxiety, depression and other mood disorders are negatively impacted by lack of sleep. Inadequate sleep during early childhood years will affect brain development and the socialization skills of children. Adolescents that do not receive enough sleep increase their chances to engage in risky behaviors. Teenagers that sleep less than six hours are twice as likely to use alcohol, marijuana and nicotine compared to teenagers that sleep eight hours. Research indicates that a 2-year-old child requires 14 hours of sleep, 9 year-old needs as much as 12 hours and adults function best with eight hours of sleep.
Examining your sleep hygiene:
Research has shown that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to obtain optimal mental and physical functioning. Most adults at some time during their life will experience acute or short-term insomnia. If you believe you are having difficulty in obtaining proper rest review your sleep hygiene:
- Bedrooms should be cool and dark.
- Your bed should be used for sleep. Avoid watching TV while in bed, working and checking emails.
- One hour before bed do not look at screens. Blue lights will reduce and hinder the release of melatonin. It has been shown that the light from a TV can get through your eye lids and your brain continues to process that you are being exposed light which may lead to fragmented sleep.
- Avoid taking long naps. A power nap in the afternoon can help to increase and improve cognitive functioning and reaction time. Power naps are 15-20 minutes and are best after lunch and before 3 PM.
- Alcohol and drugs will prevent deep rem sleep which everyone requires to support good mental and physical health.
Counselors should always discuss with their clients the importance of sufficient and healthy sleep. If a client is experiencing insomnia and ongoing sleep disturbances, counselors should refer the client to their primary care physician for assistance and treatment.